Often, everyday life reminds us of great truths. Last summer, when I was in Washington, I was driving my dad’s pickup truck with a 35-foot trailer in tow. It was only a few weeks later I was towing a 20-foot trailer in England on narrow roads. Both were a learning curve for me, but I soon discovered something—the trailer followed behind the car. Okay, that’s a bit obvious, however, sometimes when we are reading God’s Word, it seems less obvious, and we get the trailer before the pickup. Imagine if the trailer pulled the pickup truck? Although that sounds absurd, we all tend to make our works and effort the driving force and view God’s deliverance and blessing as a follow-on.
The Scriptures have a flow to them. God does/says something, then the people respond to what God does/says. The repeated pattern in Scripture is God leads/initiates and people follow/respond.
But so often we think that God responds to our initiatives.
Let me explain…These words will help us in our approach to Scripture:
Indicative – indicates information
Imperative – a command
When we read the 10 Commandments, we often read them as the things we are supposed to do to acquire God’s blessings.
After all, they are commands (a command is known as an imperative). But what precedes these commandments? Exodus 20 is where we find the 10 Commandments, and it begins with some information that points out the context for the commands (this is called an indicative). Exodus 20:2 tells us, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Verse three then tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me.” In other words, they were not saved because they kept God’s commandments. God had already saved them, and then He calls them to walk in His commandments.
It is easy for us to reverse the order of the indicatives and the imperatives.
We often think that we acquire God’s blessings based on what we do. But the Scripture tells another story: We do because we have God’s blessings already.
How often do you look to your achievements for God’s blessing? How much you gave this month, or read, or served or didn’t complain? God is not a reluctant blesser. The problem is we are reluctant obeyers. But if we could stop and consider all that God has already done for us, maybe our obedience wouldn’t be so reluctant. Maybe it would follow as naturally as a trailer follows behind a pickup truck.